The American persimmon is native from Southern New England across to Kansas and southward to Texas. The trees are dioecious, that is persimmons can be male or female. Most cultivars will produce fruit without a male. The persimmon produces a very sweet delicious fruit that is astringent until soft. Fruit can stand freezing temperatures and still be edible even into December. As soon as the fruits turn orange, they can be picked and stored in a plastic bag with apples to ripen completely. Alternatively, they can be placed in the freezer overnight and eaten the next day.
The trees do best in a warm climate. Winter protect grafts in zone 6 by hilling them up with soil above the graft for the first 2-3 years. Prune them like other fruit trees to keep them down in size for ease of picking. No spraying is required.
As of spring 2022, the USDA no longer permits persimmon to be shipped into the United States.
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American Persimmon seedlings should be planted with 2 or more trees to be sure of getting female trees. Though the trees can be hardy for zone 4, they may not be able to ripen fruit. Most require a warm summer and a long growing season. Suited for zones 5b-8.
'Campbell NC10', a seedling of 'Early Golden', was introduced by Doug Campbell a plant enthusiast from Niagara. The fruit begins to ripen by mid September and continues until late October. The delicious oval fruit is medium size and is seedless in the absence of a male tree. For best results, protect the graft with a mound of soil around it for the first 2 winters. Suited for zones 6-8.
'Gordon' was selected by John Gordon from the Buffalo, NY area. It was a seedling growing in the Geneva Experimental Station test plot. The delicious oval fruit is medium/large with a firmer texture than most. The fruit ripens slowly from early October until November. Protect the graft for the first 2 winters with a mound of soil well above the graft especially for zone 6. Suited for zones 6-8.
'Peiper' is a selection from Pennsylvania. It is a very heavy annual producer of medium sized round fruit. It normally ripens some fruit by mid-September and continues over several weeks. Suited for zones 6-8.
'Szukis' is probably a seedling of 'Early Golden' sold to Lydia Szukis, a master gardener in Niagara. The medium round fruit ripens early to mid October. This odd tree has been known to sport male branches that also produce a cherry size fruit. Suited for zones 6-8. Protect it for the first 2 winters with a mound of soil above the graft union, especially in zone 6.